Ohio kidnapping survivors say they’re thriving

CLEVELAND (AP) — The three women held captive in a Cleveland
house before escaping a year ago Tuesday have spent their first year of
freedom in nearly a decade learning to drive, taking boxing lessons and
cherishing time with their families.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus both said in statements released Monday that they are thankful and growing
in many ways.
Michelle
Knight said in an interview on NBC’s "Today" show Monday that she
forgives the man who kidnapped and tortured her and the two others. She
said Ariel Castro deserves forgiveness because she’d want to be forgiven
if she did wrong, and "that’s the way of life."
Tuesday is the
anniversary of the escape from the house by Knight, Berry and DeJesus.
Knight, 33, said she doesn’t see much of the other two women, saying
"we’re all now living in our own way."
DeJesus was 14 when she was
kidnapped by Castro. She said she’s enjoying learning how to drive and
use new technology.
"I am spending time with my family and working with
Amanda on a book that we are really excited about," she said.
Berry said the future is bright for her and thanked her family and friends for support.
"On
this day, we decided that the right place for us to be was with other
families who have gone through what our family has gone through," Berry
said. "I want these families to know they will always have a special
place in our hearts."
Knight — who has a book coming out Tuesday —
said she’s a singer who just recorded a song, and she’s also training
to be a boxer.
Knight said in the interview that she was surprised
when Castro, who pleaded guilty in August, killed himself in prison,
wondering "why would he hurt his children like that?"
The three
all hoped their captor would plead guilty to avoid a trial, according to
documents released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Monday,
and the FBI and Cleveland Police Department also did not want the women
to be re-traumatized by a trial.
"They say they understand the
need to put Castro away for life," according to a July 11, 2013
prosecutor’s document weighing the pros and cons of seeking the death
penalty.
Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges last year and committed suicide in prison shortly after
beginning a life sentence.
DeJesus
was 14, Berry was 16 and Knight was 20 when they disappeared separately
between 2002 and 2004. They were rescued from Castro’s run-down house
May 6, 2013, after Berry broke through a screen door.
Berry and
DeJesus are collaborating with two Washington Post reporters on a book
due out next year. Charles Ramsey, the man credited with helping the
women escape from the house, also has written a book.
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